The exhibition at Framer Framed in Amsterdam showed the results of the project that took place in Cairo. The project is a response to the closure of the Townhouse Gallery of Contemporary Art. The closing is an incentive to investigate a series of events in the centre of Cairo and the cultural scene in Egypt. In early 2020, a series of drawing sessions took place in the former factory space of the Townhouse Gallery in Cairo. A group of artists came together to draw and archive remaining objects from the Townhouse Gallery, which was threatened with closing down, and thus to reflect on the complex situation in which the Townhouse had ended up.
The artists realised that much of their artistic intervention in this project was related to a broader discourse of institutional critique and discussion surrounding independent art institutions in the Middle East and worldwide. Taking Stock made visible a series of socio-political and economic events that shaped the Townhouse’s precarious situation. As many cultural institutions struggle with financial constraints and socio-political backlash, the idea arose to connect with institutions under similar pressures.
The intimate and informal conversations that accompanied the drawing sessions were recorded, transcribed, coded and published online on a website. The exhibition at Framer Framed consists of an installation showing the participants’ collection of 130 handmade drawings in Cairo, accompanied by a projection of the Taking Stock website, an interactive platform that unlocks the digitised conversations.
With the desire to join forces and share the Townhouse Gallery’s research, three online meetings were organised to discuss the research results with partner organisations. These gatherings took place during the exhibition at Framer Framed and were intended to take stock of institutional survival strategies. During the meetings, participants wrote down their insights. The notes resulted in an online publication.